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Adapted from "Captain James Alvin Adkins, United States Navy" [biography, dated 9 Apr 1957] in Modern Biographical Files collection, Navy Department Library.


Document Type
  • Biography
Wars & Conflicts
  • World War II 1939-1945
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Location of Archival Materials

James Alvin Adkins

16 June 1909 - 16 February 1988

PDF Version [23KB]

A native of Washington, DC, Captain Adkins attended St. Albans School before his appointment to the US Naval Academy in 1926. After graduation in 1930, he served as a junior officer in the battleship Mississippi, and the cruisers Chicago and Indianapolis. In 1933 he was attached to the destroyer Williamson as Engineer Officer, and after instruction at the Submarine School, New London, served from 1934 to 1937 on board the submarine S-37 on Asiatic Station, operating in the Philippines and China.

In 1937 he completed a short courser in the French language at Tours, France, then for two years was an instructor in the Department of Languages at the Naval Academy. Four months on board the submarine S-22 preceded duty as Executive Officer of USS Seawolf, which he joined at her commissioning at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in February 1940, and left at Manila, RI, just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. From January to June 1942 he served on the Staff of Commander Submarine Squadron 5, and as Commanding Officer of the Detail Office in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department.

From December 1942 until December 1943 he was Navigator of the cruiser San Diego, which participated in action at Guadalcanal and in the Marshall and Gilbert Islands Campaigns. Later, while serving on the Staff of Commander Submarines, Southwest Pacific (Perth), he made a PCO cruise in USS Hake. He commanded USS Cod during her Fourth, Fifth and Sixth War Patrols in 1944-1945, and was awarded the Navy Cross for the first successful War Patrol and the Silver Star (two awards) for the other two. During the last three months of hostilities he served as Air-Submarine Liaison Officer to Commander Submariners, Pacific, and received a Letter of Commendation from the Commanding General, 20th Air Force, for meritorious achievement in helping submarines to find Air Force pilots who had been forced down.

After the Japanese surrender, he returned to the Submarine Base, New London, to serve as Instructor, later Acting Head of the Submarine School, then as Operations Officer for forces operating out of New London. Duty as Assistant Naval Attaché at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 1947 to June 1949 was followed by instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. In June 1950(?) he reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for duty on the Staff and after a year there served for two years as Chief of the Navy Section, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Portugal.

In June 1953 he was ordered to USS Sandoval, which, under his command, participated in action in Korea in 1953. After his return to the United States in September 1954, he again served in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and under orders of 21 June 1956, was transferred to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.


Born: Washington, DC, 16 June 1909
Parents: James C. and Virginia R. (Brown) Adkins
Education: St Albans School, Washington, DC ; US Naval Academy (BS, 1930) ; Submarine School (1934) ; Tours, France (French language, 1937) ; Naval War College (1950)


Commissioned Ensign 5 June 1930
Lieutenant (jg), 5 June 1933
Lieutenant, 30 June 1937
Lieutenant Commander (T), 2 January 1942
Lieutenant Commander, 8 April 1943
Commander (T), 7 September 1944
Commander, 7 August 1947 (to rank from 30 December 1941)
Captain (T), 3 May 1947 until 1 December 1947
Captain, 1 July 1949


Navy Cross
Silver Star Medal
Gold Star in lieu of second Silver Star Medal
American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, one silver star and two bronze stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal
United Nations Service Medal
Philippine Liberation Ribbon, one bronze star

Navy Cross: “For extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of the USS Cod, during the Fourth War Patrol of that vessel against enemy Japanese forces in the area of Manila and in the Flores and Molucca Seas, from July 3 to August 25, 1944… (He) launched and executed numerous well planned and daring attacks…which resulted in the destruction of four hostile cargo ships and the damaging of a fifth.  Constantly vigilant and aggressive, he resolutely retained the initiative and boldly pursued and pressed home the attacks, skillfully evading the enemy’s depth bomb charges and insuring his ship’s safe return to port.”

Silver Star Medal:  “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Commanding Officer of the USS Cod during the Fifth War Patrol of that vessel in enemy Japanese-controlled waters of the Pacific, from 18 September to November 20, 1944… (He) directed his ship in carrying out bold and aggressive attacks against the enemy to sink and enemy tanker of 10,000 tons and by his bold tactics, avoided severe enemy countermeasures.  With all torpedoes expended following a furious engagements, he pursued an important enemy convey and relayed accurate reports of its movements for a period of thirty ours.”

Gold Star in lieu of second Silver Star Medal:  “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity as Commanding Officer of the USS Cod…during the Sixth War Patrol of that vessel in the enemy controlled waters of the East China Sea off the northwest coast of Formosa from March 24 to May 29, 1945.  Fighting back against great odds, Commander Adkins delivered smashing gun and torpedo attacks which resulted in the destruction of 5,000 tons of enemy shipping.  Despite damage to his ship, he skillfully evaded severe enemy countermeasures and brought his vessel safe to port.”


August 1930 - April 1931 USS Mississippi (Junior Officer)
May 1931 - August 1931 Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida (instruction)
September 1931 - June 1932 USS Chicago (JO)
June 1932 - November 1932 USS Indianapolis (cfo)
November 1932 - June 1933 USS Indianapolis (JO)
June 1933 - November 1933 USS Williamson (Engineer Officer)
January 1934 - June 1934 Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut (instruction)
September 1934 - March 1937 Submarine Squadron FIVE (S-37, Executive Officer)
August 1937 - May 1939 US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (Instructor, Department of Languages)
May 1939 - October 1939 USS S-22
October 1939 - December 1939 USS Seawolf (cfo)
December 1939 - November 1941 USS Seawolf (XO)
January 1942 - March 1942 Submarine Squadron FIVE
March 1942 - May 1942 USS S-21 (Commanding Officer)
June 1942 - November 1942 Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department
December 1942 - December 1943 USS San Diego (Navigator)
December 1943 - January 1944 Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut (instruction)
February 1944 - June 1944 Seventh Fleet, Submarine Squadron SIXTEEN
June 1944 - June 1945 USS Cod (CO)
July 1945 - October 1945 Submarines, Pacific (Air Submarine Liaison Officer)
November 1945 - October 1946 Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut (Instructor, Submarine School)
October 1946 - June 1947 Submarine Squadron TWO (Staff)
July 1947 - September 1947 Office of Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department
September 1947 - September 1949 American Embassy, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Assistant Naval Attaché and Assistant Naval Attaché for Air)
September 1949 - June 1950 Naval War College (Instruction)
June 1950 - June 1953 Office of Chief of Naval Operations
June 1953 - July 1954 Military Assistance Advisory Group, Portugal (Chief, Navy Section)
August 1954 - June 1956 Office of CNO
June 1956 - Office of Secretary of Defense, Washington, DC


Published: Wed Jan 03 12:45:44 EST 2018